The past few days have been somewhat of a mixed bag. And since I simply don't have the energy to act like I'm hugely successful as a wife/mother/housekeeper all the time, I feel it's only right to share both the good and the bad.
This week, I've enlisted the help of the children in getting and keeping the house clean. All the beds in the house have been made every day this week, bedrooms have been tidy the entire week and the rest of the house has been tidy enough so that anyone could have dropped by at any given moment without sending us scurrying around shoving things under the sofa or into the laundry room (not that we've ever done that, I'm just sayin'...)! It's gone so well that the past two days, it has taken the children merely 10 minutes to complete their Morning Chores!
On a similar note, we also cleaned the powder room and half of the living room as they have never been cleaned before. I'm talking moving furniture away from the walls, getting out the vacuum cleaner attachments and an old toothbrush for detail work, wiping down the walls, and scrubbing every inch of the bathroom floor the old fashioned way: on my hands and knees with a scrub brush. The Viking got into the spirit of the thing, too, and painted the powder room window for me!
As I mentioned, I only got half of the living room cleaned. The rest is tidy and looks presentable, but I know what is lurking behind and underneath the rest of the furniture. I know I'm not supposed to be worrying about perfection, but it's going to feel lopsided to me until I just get it done!
Wednesday was Redheaded Snippet's birthday (she's 15 now, I can't believe it) and tonight was her "party" (I use the term loosely, hence the quotes) so we had the local frelatives over for cake and ice cream. I always ask the children what kind of cake they want, bakery or homemade, and do my best to provide it for them and this year Redheaded Snippet said she wanted me to make Sticky Toffee Pudding.
If you haven't experienced the wonders of Sticky Toffee Pudding, you don't know what you are missing. It's not what we think of as pudding at all. The British use the term, "pudding," to mean most cakey desserts and STP is very much a dense, moist cake. It's made with brown sugar and chopped dates and has an ooey gooey, dark brown caramel sauce (the "sticky toffee") and is served with cream that gets drizzled on top. The Viking and I had it at a pub in Surrey and it remains my most favorite thing to eat in the world.
So, that was what Redheaded Snippet requested. And I was happy to oblige. I had made it for Christmas a few years back with triumphant results but, for some reason, I decided to try a different recipe. I think I must have lost my mind. We all know, especially in cookery, that if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it! Well, I tried to fix something that was perfectly fine and made a disaster out of it.
Suffice it to say that an hour and 15 minutes past the time the party was supposed to start, I had a lackluster-looking "pudding" that looked nothing like it was supposed to but very suspiciously like an American cake that had clung stubbornly to the bottom of the tube pan despite my most heroic efforts to jiggle it loose and then obliged no one at all by falling in large pieces out onto the platter. Ten people were waiting patiently at the dining room table, too polite to wonder out loud why on earth the party hadn't started but all no doubt thinking it and I was faced with serving a cake that looked like I had gone out and thrown it into the street. Which, in fact, I very much wanted to do.
I can't deny it. I had a minor meltdown. The entire production had been a comedy of errors (I accidentally sent my poor, patient Viking to the wrong pizzeria to pick up Redheaded Snippet's requested dinner--panzarotti's, remind me to tell you sometime--which cost him an extra hour of driving around in rush hour traffic, just for one example) and the dumb cake just pushed me a little over the edge. I gripped the edge of the counter and burst into tears and laughter at the same time. My family thought I had lost it. Which I think I had.
I knew I had to pull myself together and forge ahead so I got the sauce ready and started sticking the fancy candles I had bought into the cake.
Well, because everyone had been waiting so long and I was in such a rush, I didn't let the thing cool long enough. So when we put the candles into it, they began to melt. Into the innards of the cake. It was as if the cake was so hideous the candles were just going limp in shock and protest! The Viking pulled one out to reposition it and it was nothing but wick where it had been below the surface!
In quite a frenzy by this time, I wildly ordered everyone at the table to just sing happy damn birthday sans candles or cake! Fortunately, everyone in my family has quite a healthy sense of humor so they made the most of it while I yanked the candles out, cut up the cake, drenched the pieces in caramel sauce and served it with ice cream.
Everyone said it was delicious and Redheaded Snippet assured me it didn't matter what it looked like so I guess it wasn't a true disaster after all. And I think I've learned a valuable lesson. Never, ever, ever use a tube pan to make any kind of cake whatsoever. You hear me? Don't do it, it will make you say all kinds of bad words and then you will have to apologize to your children for your lack of self-control!
Like I said, you win some, you lose some, you can't win them all. I think I'll go soothe my wrankled pride by sitting for a few minutes in my gleaming powder room, that should make me feel better...